Auxiliary languages are artificial or constructed languages created with the intent of facilitating communication between peoples who would otherwise have difficulty communicating. They are separate from lingua francas, which are natural or organic languages that become dominant for one reason or another as means of communication between speakers of other languages. While this page isn't meant to promote auxiliary languages in general or any one in particular, it should act as a guide to the possible interests an IAL speaker would have in the realm of travel. Speakers of auxiliary languages like Esperanto often have conventions, meetups, and other gatherings on a regular basis, with IAL speakers often traveling great distances to attend.
Common or famous international auxiliary languages
- Solresol (probably the first artificial auxiliary language)
- Esperanto (by far the most famous and most widely spoken IAL)
- Ido (attempt at reforming Esperanto)
- Volapük (largely superseded by Esperanto)
How many people speak auxiliary languages worldwide?
Different auxiliary languages have risen and fallen since many were created in the 19th century. At its peak in the 1880s, Volapük had about 100,000 speakers, though now it has only a few dozen fluent speakers. Interlingua is spoken actively by over a thousand people worldwide, though it is taught and learned on every continent, possibly because its naturalistic character makes it easy to learn and understand for speakers of Romance languages. Esperanto is by far the most successful international auxiliary language, boasting over two million speakers around the world, far outdoing any of its predecessors like Volapük or its attempted successors like Ido (which has only a few thousand speakers). Many thousands more study and learn Esperanto all around the world. Esperanto even has an appreciable number of native speakers due in part to couples whose only language in common was Esperanto raising their children bilingual or trilingual with Esperanto as one of the languages.
The limited number of speakers is the main practical factor that limits the opportunity for a traveler to use an auxiliary language: For every person who speaks any auxiliary language, there are 500 others who speak Mandarin Chinese, 250 who speak English or Hindi, 200 who speak Spanish, and 150 who speak Russian or Arabic.
The first auxiliary language to gain enough ground to have large conferences was Volapük, which held meetings throughout its heyday in the 1880s, with the last one in Paris in 1889, in which participants spoke only in Volapük. Esperanto surpassed Volapük in popularity in the 1890s, and the first Esperanto Congress, the Universal Congress of Esperanto (Universala Kongreso de Esperanto), was held in Boulogne-sur-Mer in 1905. Nearly seven hundred participants, with many from France and Germany, attended. The Universal Esperanto Association has held yearly conferences ever since then, with hiatuses during the world wars. Ido, a relative of Esperanto, has been the subject of conferences since the 1920s.
Of the handful of conlangs with substantial communities, a few still have meetings and conventions. Esperanto, with perhaps one or two million speakers, has multiple events most years. Ido, with one or two hundred speakers, has at least one event every year. Interlingua, a naturalistic constructed language combining elements common to the Romance languages, also has at least one event every year.
Special occasions for international auxiliary languages
- Esperanto Youth Week (Esperanto: Junulara E-Semajno)
- Panamerican Esperanto Congress (Esperanto: Tut-Amerika Kongreso de Esperanto)
- Esperanto USA Conventions (Esperanto: Landaj Kongresoj)
- Ido Convention (Ido: Ido renkontro)
- International Interlingua Conference (Interlingua: Conferentia International de Interlingua)